5 Little Unknown Health Benefits of Alcohol

It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to the dangers of alcohol, happy hour at your local bar can actually boost your brainpower, help your heart, and even help to flatten your stomach.  Ok, so you’re telling me that if I start on a strawberry daiquiris diet I’ll be fit as a fiddle? Well maybe not, everything in moderation, but having a few alcoholic drinks is not as bad as you think.

According to Eric Rimm, Sc.D. who is the associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health “One of the most consistent findings in recent nutrition research is that moderate alcohol consumption can improve health and lead to a longer life”

Time to celebrate and crack open and down a bottle of bubbly you’ve been keeping for a special occasion? Hold your horses, everything in moderation and when it comes to alcohol this is key to reaping the benefits. Moderation? If you are a women this basically means that you can enjoy one alcoholic drink per day and if you are a man two drinks is perfectly fine to get some of the benefits of alcohol. But be warned any more than that (and I mean excessive regular boozing) and the tables could turn and you could be at risk of a whole host of different alcohol related diseases.

5 Health Benefits of Alcohol Consumption in Moderation

So if you drink moderately within that good fine line the effects of alcohol can actually benefit your body in some surprisingly healthy ways. Here are five good reasons to say cheers!

1. Helps to Beat Belly Bulge

So drinking alcohol won’t give me a beer belly? As I have mentioned above everything in moderation and when you drink appropriate amounts of alcohol it can in fact help to fight fat. Fun fact – in a 2010 study carried out by The Archives of Internal Medicine they found that women who had just one or two alcoholic drinks per day were less likely to put-on and gain weight than those who didn’t drink.

How it works: Research suggests that the bodies of long-term moderate drinkers have adapted to metabolize alcohol slightly differently than those who drink occasionally on a big night out.

Recommended drink: A bottle of light beer, sipping from the bottle helps to keep portions under control. Light beers such as Michelob Ultra, Sam Adams Light, and Guinness Draught all keep their calories in check without sacrificing the flavor of the beer.

2. Healthy Heart – Protects Your Ticker

Red wine has for a long time been known for its health benefits and some even consider it the elixir of heart health. But that doesn’t mean you can crack open a bottle of red and drink until your heart’s content. Again moderation; you only have to drink a glass or two of Merlot to reap the benefits. According to a review of over 100 prospective studies from the Harvard School of Public Health moderate consumption of any alcoholic beverage can help to cut your heart disease risk by up to 40%.

How it works: Nearly all of the health benefits of alcohol are for the heart, due to alcohol’s ability to raise your body’s good (HDL) cholesterol and lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol, and at the same time helping to reduce blood problems that can lead to clogged arteries and possible heart attacks.

Recommended drink: The best alcoholic drink for the heart is Pinot Noir (I’ve been told).  Pinot Noir contains much more disease fighting antioxidants than any other alcoholic beverage. But don’t forget to pop the cork back in after two glasses if you are man or one glass if you are women.

3. Boost Your Brainpower

Your Brain is probably all too aware of the downsides of drinking in excess. However, if you drink smart, sip and not down your alcoholic drinks a little tipple can help prevent cognitive decline. Fun-fact, studies carried out from the Loyola University found that moderate drinkers were 23% less likely to develop cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease a long with other forms of dementia when compared to non-drinkers.

How it works: No one is really sure why, but researchers hypothesize that drinking moderately helps to raise good cholesterol improving the blood flow to the brain. Another theory is that moderate amounts of alcohol could toughen brain cells causing them a little amount of stress which in-turn helps to prepare the brain cells to cope with major stress in later life that could cause cognitive impairment such as dementia.

Recommended drink: Again wine comes out on top for its health benefits and if far more beneficial than hard liquor and beer for boosting brainpower.

4. Wave Goodbye to Gallstones

Alcohol can help reduce the risk of those hard deposits that form in the gallbladder causing cramping or pain in the pit of your stomach. Recent research suggests that regular moderate alcohol consumption 5 to 7 days a week can help to reduce the risk of gallstones. However, infrequent alcohol consumption of 1-2 days per week showed no significant association with gallstone risk.

How it works: Moderate alcohol consumption helps to increase the good cholesterol levels in your bloodstream well it also helps to increase the good cholesterol in your gallbladder as well.

Recommended drink: The best drink to say goodbye to gallstones is Eppa Sangria. This alcoholic beverage is an organic sangria and only sets you back 120 calories per glass. Fun-fact, Eppa Sangria provides twice as many antioxidants as a glass of red wine.

5. Reduce Risk of Diabetes

Surprisingly, a drink a day can keep the diabetes at bay or at the very least it can help. In a 2005 Diabetes Care report they found that moderate amounts of alcohol reduces risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 30%. Remember, moderate translates as one alcoholic drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

How it works: Moderate drinking helps to increase certain hormones in the body which in-turn improves insulin sensitivity. In laymen terms, it helps your body to process glucose and to turn that into energy. This process then help to reduce the amount of excess sugar in the bloodstream which ultimately reduces your risk for developing diabetes.

Recommended drink: Best alcoholic diabetes reducing drink is a Bloody Mary. The antioxidant lycopene found in the tomato juice offers a heart-healthy bonus and you’ll be left feeling full and satisfied after just one glass.

Photo by alex ranaldi

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